A staggering 27 billion cubic meters of water are wasted in Iran every year, according to the head of the Department of Environment.
Speaking at a water conference on Tuesday in Shahr-e-Kord, Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province, Massoumeh Ebtekar added that the only surefire way to reduce water loss is by correcting consumption patterns in agriculture and industries, the Persian-language daily Ettelaat reported.
“Iran’s annual water consumption tops 97 billion cubic meters, while the country only has 88 bcm of renewable sources,” Isa Kalantari, former agriculture minister, said.
Illegal water wells, which number 170,000, have emerged as a major problem for the water authorities trying to curb the high extraction and consumption rates, namely in key agricultural regions.
In spite of all warnings, the excessive withdrawal of water from aquifers continues in the agriculture sector, which is hardly justified or profitable.
About 92% of the country’s water resources are used up by unsustainable and wasteful farming practices.
Experts predict that the country’s water scarcity will hit crisis level by 2025, when available renewable water will be less than 1,000 cubic meters per capita, down from 2,000 cubic meters in 1950.
They say if water consumption patterns do not change in the near future, many parts of the country will turn into barren desert while entire towns and villages will become uninhabitable.